LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -An appeal court says a man awaiting trial on a charge of murder was given an “illegally lenient” sentence on another charge.
McKartney Young is to be re-sentenced and could be looking at at least twenty years.
However, the defense attorney says such a sentence would be unfair.
The Third Circuit is sending Young back for re-sentencing after he received a five-year sentence on a drug charge, which the appeal court called illegally lenient.
D.A. John DeRosier says they wanted the habitual offender law used to give Young at least twenty years.
"Some people have referred to it as the three strikes you're out law. Whenever someone has three or more felony convictions of a certain type they can be declared by the court as a habitual offender and sentenced to an enhanced sentence because they are in fact habitual offenders," said DeRosier.
However, defense attorney Todd Clemons says a 20-year sentence on a drug case would be unfair and evidence of prosecutorial vindictiveness.
"They wanted to make sure he served a sentence on a drug case for a murder case that they believe he committed but that they couldn't prove. So, therefore they were being vindictive by offering him an excessive sentence in a routine possession of drug case of 20 years. That's excessive," said Clemons.
DeRosier disputes that and denies any prosecutorial vindictiveness.
“The mandatory minimum for a third offender for distribution of drugs of that nature was a twenty-year mandatory minimum under the law. We requested the twenty-year minimum and the judge went below that and sentenced this defendant to five years,” said DeRosier.
Clemons disagrees with the Third Circuit ruling.
"I mean somebody serving five years in prison for possession of a small number of drugs, I don't think anywhere in America that's illegally lenient," said Clemons.
Still, unless a higher court says otherwise Young will be back in court to receive a higher sentence.
Clemons says Young did not commit murder and will be found not guilty.
At last word, Young’s trial was set for October.